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Diabetes Care. 2014;37(1):116-23. doi: 10.2337/dc13-1263. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Dietary energy intake is associated with type 2 diabetes risk markers in children.

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  • 1Corresponding author: Angela S. Donin,


OBJECTIVE Energy intake, energy density, and nutrient intakes are implicated in type 2 diabetes risk in adults, but little is known about their influence on emerging type 2 diabetes risk in childhood. We examined these associations in a multiethnic population of children. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS This was a cross-sectional study of 2,017 children predominantly of white European, South Asian, and black African-Caribbean origin aged 9-10 years who had a detailed 24-h dietary recall and measurements of body composition and provided a fasting blood sample for measurements of plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum insulin; homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance was also derived. RESULTS Energy intake was positively associated with insulin resistance. After the removal of 176 participants with implausible energy intakes (unlikely to be representative of habitual intake), energy intake was more strongly associated with insulin resistance and was also associated with glucose and fat mass index. Energy density was also positively associated with insulin resistance and fat mass index. However, in mutually adjusted analyses, the associations for energy intake remained while those for energy density became nonsignificant. Individual nutrient intakes showed no associations with type 2 diabetes risk markers. CONCLUSIONS Higher total energy intake was strongly associated with high levels of insulin resistance and may help to explain emerging type 2 diabetes risk in childhood. Studies are needed to establish whether reducing energy intake produces sustained favorable changes in insulin resistance and circulating glucose levels.

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